Contrary to what it may seem like given this post and yesterday’s, I rarely go to the theater to see a movie.
About twenty years ago, I endured a bad string of movies for which I paid the insane ticket price, $3.50 at the time, to see dreck. On top of paying to have my intelligence and artistic sensibilities insulted, I was subjected to a freezing cold room, too-loud audio, brutally uncomfortable seats and an American public who think the Constitution supports a God-given right to be rude, boorish, and loud.
That string of bad movies coincided with the rise of VCRs and premium movie channels. Twenty years later, I only go to the theater if it’s a movie I think must be seen on a big screen or if it’s one that’s creating a lot of buzz and I want to see what folks are yammering on about.
A few years ago it was Pirates of the Caribbean. Not even the loin quivering effect of Depp’s eyeliner could overcome the physical miseries of the theater. It was July. It was brutally hot and I went, in part, to escape the heat. The theater was cold enough to raise penguins. Completely miserable, I pulled my arms out of my sleeves and huddled under my t-shirt in the feeble warmth of much-laundered cotton. I eventually brought my knees up under the t-shirt, wrapped my arms around my knees, gripped my sandaled toes and hunkered down to ride out the movie. I resembled ET sitting in the bicycle basket.
And while I shivered, my teeth aching with the bass of too-loud Surround Sound, I resisted the urge, in part because I would have to extricate myself from the t-shirt, to pummel the people sitting near me who talked, one to another, and on cell phones. Who were up and down like popping kernels of corn. Who did not disappoint my opinion that we need to have a presidentially appointed Etiquette Czar.
I didn’t step foot in a theater until We Are Marshall was released. This movie was filmed in the town I work in and told the story of the aftermath of the 1970 plane crash that killed Marshall University’s football team along with many civic leaders. The theater in question was a new one and everyone I knew talked about how nice and how comfortable it was. I was dubious, but it turned out to be true. We Are Marshall was a disappointment, but the theater was a delight.
So about once or twice a year now, I’ll go see a movie. I figured Friday’s viewing of Babies was 2010’s offering. However, last night I was charged with taking five teenage girls to see Grown Ups starring Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Salma Hayek, Kevin James, David Spade, and Rob Schneider. I had no illusions the movie would be an artistic triumph. But given what was spent on the payroll, I figured the movie would at least be mildly entertaining. I fervently hoped Adam Sandler’s penchant to play the same obnoxious character over and over again would be squashed.
I have never, and I do mean never, seen such an inept movie. The acting was bad, the script was worse, the jokes too tired to even limp through the movie. I think I was supposed to be amused and heart-warmed by the foibles of the American family that, though buffeted about by the winds of change, manage to hang onto the core values immortalized by Norman Rockwell.
There were fart jokes, boob jokes, and pee jokes. Tired clichés. Slapstick comedy in a lake house somewhere in mid-America with Salma Hayek traipsing through all the scenes in designer clothes, cleavage, and stiletto heels except for one scene in which it appeared she was wearing a cheerleading costume made of newspaper. The only saving quality was that Adam Sandler did play a different role than his usual one – one so bad that his usual obnoxiousness might have been preferable.
It was as if they tried a mash up of The Big Chill, Porkies, and On Golden Pond.
It was so very bad.
Here’s how bad it was: even the teenagers didn’t like it.
The theater, however, was quite comfortable.